Too much a champion
In a report published today, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has highlighted concerns that the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, formed on 1 January 2016, risks becoming “too much of a champion” for government projects.
[Public Accounts Committee, 18 Mar 2016]
[The report] also finds the requirements of good project delivery “are not understood well enough by policy developers and decision makers outside the project management profession”.
The Report states:
“Ministers and Permanent Secretaries are often responsible for developing the policies which lead to projects and taking significant decisions on those projects.
Yet very few Members of Parliament enter politics with previous experience in running large organisations or delivering major projects. Likewise, Permanent Secretaries’ or potential Permanent Secretaries’ careers will not necessarily include experience of delivering major projects.”
We have supported the Major Projects Authority’s efforts to improve project delivery in government and recognise the steps it has taken to strengthen project assurance, improve transparency, and introduce project leadership training.
But it is disappointing that after nearly 5 years we cannot see more tangible signs of what impact these initiatives have had. Moreover, there are still big challenges ahead.
The Major Projects Authority rated 34% of the government’s major projects as either ‘red’ or ‘amber-red’ at June 2015, meaning that successful delivery is unachievable or in doubt unless action is taken. For the projects due to deliver in the next 5 years, 35% are rated as red or amber-red.
In this demanding environment, it is important that there is a body within government which challenges departments about their plans and implementation of projects.
We are concerned that the merger of the Major Projects Authority and Infrastructure UK risks the new body (the Infrastructure and Projects Authority) becoming too much of a champion for government projects, at the expense of its vital role in challenging government performance.